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Open House Melbourne – 27 Best Buildings for Kids & Families

Open House Melbourne Weekend is back on Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 July 2019, with a packed program celebrating the best of architecture across the city.

Your whole family can enjoy exploring buildings not normally open to the public or which are hosting extra fun on Open House Weekend. Activities are mostly free, and buildings listed here are all pram-accessible. Bookings are required for some locations.

To help you make the most of Open House Weekend, I’ve recommended 27 buildings which are offering something unique for the weekend – they are either offering a special event or are not normally accessible to the public. You can log into Open House Melbourne using my public account (username: joyce@tothotornot.com password: Joyce) to get the itinerary on your desktop, mobile or app, to print the full itinerary or to map my journey.

Also read my tips on how to visit Open House Melbourne with kids.

Open House Melbourne – Melbourne CBD and Docklands

  1. Immigration Museum

Urban Tactility is an installation featuring oversized tactiles in a playful and exploratory way and offers ways people with blindness or low vision experience these spaces.

immigration museum

The Immigration Museum will also run a workshop for kids to create their own miniature model of what they would display at their own museum – designs which they will be able to take home.

Immigration Museum, rear 400 Flinders St, Melbourne

Saturday 27 July, 12–4pm, Sunday 28 July, 12–4pm

 

2. SIGNAL

SIGNAL is a space for young people aged 13-25, but it is open to all across the Open House Melbourne Weekend. SIGNAL‘s program includes making collages, zines and badges, or try your hand at fabric flowers or clay modeling.

SIGNAL, Flinders Walk, Melbourne

Saturday 27 July & Sunday 28 July 10am – 4pm

 

3.  ABC Southbank Centre

At the ABC building you'll see live radio in action, visit the studios, TV sets and have the chance to meet some familiar faces or put a face to the voice you hear on ABC Radio. There'll be displays and attractions for all ages, including a VR experience for kids.

There is also a free guided tour where you'll learn about the daily production of the news bulletin, see the control room, and explore the sets of News Breakfast, 7pm News, The World and the weather! Bookings required. [Sold out]

ABC Southbank Centre, 120 Southbank Boulevard, Southbank

Saturday 27 July 10am–3.45pm

 

4.  ArtPlay

Join the Ball Room artists as they reveal how they make art through play, in a participatory game of Ping Pong WoW.

Space Shapes, Artplay, Birrarung Marr, Melbourne

ArtPlay, Birarrung Marr, behind Federation Square, Melbourne

Saturday 27 July & Sunday 28 July 10am to 4pm for the self guided tour

Saturday 27 July & Sunday 28 July 10.30am to 12.30pm + 2pm to 4pm for Ping Pong WoW

 

5. City of Melbourne Art and Heritage Collection

From a wooden banana gifted by the Mayor of Coffs Harbour, to a pair of street ‘man-hole' covers which once accessed the hydraulic system that powered the city's elevators, to the gowns and crowns worn by Moomba kings and queens, to maquettes of some of Melbourne's best known public art works, once you get behind the rather grim concrete façade of this building you will be given a rare insight into this fascinating city collection.

Guide tours depart every 20 minutes, running 30 minutes in groups of 15.

City of Melbourne Art and Heritage Collection, 602 Little Bourke Street Melbourne

Saturday 27 July & Sunday 28 July 10am–3.30pm

 

6. Melbourne Observatory

Tour the Melbourne Observatory buildings whilst learning about the historical, scientific, and astronomical significance of the site. Free tours are led by expert guides from the Astronomical Society of Victoria. Note there is limited mobility and recommended for 8+ years.

Melbourne Observatory, Gate O: Birdwood Avenue, Melbourne

Saturday 27 July 10am–3.30pm

 

7. Scots' Church and Assembly Hall

Constructed between 1873 and 1874, the Gothic Revival style Scots' Church was designed to be the most beautiful building in Australia. Guest organists will play the Rieger organ, see an art exhibition, enjoy light Refreshments in the Assembly Hall, read short stories that inspired the windows and sit and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere. Kids can enjoy some simple activities – colouring, dot to dot and find items in the windows.

Scots' Church and Assembly Hall, 156 Collins Street, Melbourne

Saturday 27 July 10am–4pm & Sunday 28 July 1pm–4pm

8. Southbank Theatre

Go backstage at Southbank Theatre, the home of Melbourne Theatre Company, where some of Australia's most beloved actors have graced the stage. A guided tour will take you behind the scenes to rarely seen backstage areas plus you can explore special displays of props, costumes and set models from much-loved MTC productions in the foyer.

Southbank Theatre, 140 Southbank Boulevard, Southbank

Saturday 27 July 10am–2pm

9. Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research

There are guided and self-guided tours plus kids can learn and discover more about science in the interactive activity area: meet techo, the humanoid robot; try some simple coding; build DNA models; and learn microscopy.

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research,1G Royal Parade, Parkville

Sunday 28 July 10am–3.45pm

 

10. Port of Melbourne Boat Tours

Featuring a guided commentary from port staff, you'll see Australia's busiest port from a whole new angle. Normally Port Open Day boat tours run on Sundays during the warmer months but for Open House Melbourne the tours are free. All tours are round-trips, leaving from Victoria Harbour in Docklands.

Port of Melbourne Boat Tours, Water Plaza, Victoria Harbour Docklands

Sunday 28 July 10am–3pm

Open House Melbourne – North

11. Dancehouse

Classes will be offered in diverse dance genres at 11:00, 12:15, 2:00 and 3:15, in addition to free tours at 10:30 and 2:30.

Dancehouse, former Carlton Community Hall, 150 Princes Street, Carlton North

Sat 28 July & Sun 29 July, 10.30 – 4.30pm

 

12. Bargoonga Nganjin

Visitors will be able to roam through the different levels of the library including the lush rooftop garden.

Bargoonga Nganjin North Fitzroy Library

There will be storytime and various interactive activities for the whole family.

Bargoonga Nganjin,  182 St Georges Road, Fitzroy North

Sunday 28 July 2pm–5pm

13. Triple R – 3RRR 102.7FM

Go behind the scenes at a working radio station. There are tours of all of the spaces plus radio studio demonstrations and opportunity for participation.

TripleR

Triple R – 3RRR 102.7FM, 221 Nicholson Street, Brunswick East

Saturday 27 July 10am–3.45pm

 

14. Islamic Museum

Children will be given a booklet, ‘My IMA Journal’, to complete while touring, and upon completion will receive a gift.

Islamic Museum of Australia, 15A Anderson Road, Thornbury

Saturday 27 July 10am–4pm

Open House Melbourne – South

15. Bunjil Place

The entire precinct will be activated with guided tours of the back of house spaces, self guided tours of public spaces, films on the big screen in the plaza, kids activities with Archi-KIDS and kids trail, design talks. Visit the current exhibition in the gallery and explore the three level library. Full review. 

Bunjil Place

Bunjil Place, 2 Patrick Northeast Drive, Narre Warren

Saturday 27 July & Sunday 28 July 10am–4pm

16. Toorak House Swedish Church

Guided tours of the property including (weather permitting) the chance to climb the stairs to the top of the tower with commanding views of Melbourne. There is a cafe which will be serving warm soup, coffee, tea and Swedish cakes and buns. There is also a small market of Scandinavian inspired products in the veranda. For kids there is a playground and extensive grounds.

Toorak House Swedish Church, 21 St Georges Road, Toorak

Saturday 27 & Sunday 28 July 10am–4pm

17. All Saints Church East St Kilda

Kids take charge in a self-directed treasure hunt through one of the most decorated churches in Melbourne.

all saints church st kilda

All Saints Church East St Kilda, 2 Chapel Street, St Kilda

Saturday 27 July & Sunday 28 July 10am–4pm

 

18. Christ Church

In the church there will be a display of photographs, pictures and memorabilia; recorded and live music; guest speakers; and refreshments. For kids there are games to help explore the church and the site, picture drawing, and a guest visitor.

Christ Church, 14 Acland Street, St Kilda

Saturday 27 July 10am–4pm & Sunday 28 July 1pm–4pm

 

19.   State Gymnastics Centre

Kids can participate in colouring in and craft activities and view high-performance athletes training.

NICA Circus Class Prahran

State Gymnastic Centre, Level 3, 41 Green Street Windsor

Saturday 27 July 9.30am–1pm

 

20.  Gasworks Arts Park

Drop-in activities: Play with Clay and Wildflower Printing, plus a free exhibition by resident artists.

gasworks arts park

Gasworks Arts Park, 21 Graham Street, Albert Park

Saturday 27 July & Sunday 28 July 10am–4pm

 

21. The Melbourne Camera Club

Kids can try a free cyanotype workshop, creating a design on pre-prepared paper, exposing it and seeing it develop in water into a blueprint to take home.

Melbourne Camera Club

The Melbourne Camera Club, 254-256 Ferrars Street, South Melbourne

Saturday 27 July & Sunday 28 July 10am–4.30pm

 

22.  Australian Tapestry Workshop

Free guided-tours and drop in drop out hands-on weaving activities will be available throughout the day. Drop-in throughout the day for free weaving for kids.

Australian Tapestry Workshop

Australian Tapestry Workshop, 262-266 Park St, South Melbourne

Saturday 27 July 10am–5pm

 

 

Open House Melbourne – East

Families can pick up a special Open House activity book for the City of Boroondara Precinct which features kids activities for each of the Boroondara buildings. It's available from any of the Boroondara sites or the Open House Info Hub.

23. Tay Greggan

Built in 1892 next to the Yarra River, Tay Greggan house exemplifies the arts and crafts approach during the early twentieth century. Paying homage to the arts and crafts era, Tay Greggan will be running an engaging session for children focusing on robotic art. Younger children will be able to control Spheros to create their own piece of robot art; older children will have the chance to use codes including randomisation and loops to produce a variety of effects. Smocks and water-based paints will be provided, but art-friendly clothes recommended.

Robotic Art at Tay Greggan, 30 Yarra St, Hawthorn.

Sunday 28 July, 10am – 4pm

 

24. Hawthorn Arts Centre

There are free guided tours and guilding Buddies art workshop with James Price. Using collage techniques, James will lead the kids through a discussion about the buildings of Hawthorn and the types of people who may have used them throughout their life. Workshop times are at the same time of the tours – you are welcome to leave children 6 years old and above with the workshop. All children 5 and under are to be supervised by an adult.

Hawthorn Arts Centre 60 Burwood Road, Hawthorn

Saturday 27 July & Sunday 28 Sunday, 11.30am, 1pm and 3.30pm

Open House Melbourne – West

25. The Drill Hall

Join Women's Circus for a guided tour and learn about the history of the site. Get a behind-the-scenes peek at a rehearsal for this years show THE DRILL and chat with the Creative Director about the process of devising a Women's Circus show.

The Drill Hall, 395 Barkly Street, Footscray

Sunday 28 July 12pm–4.30pm

26. Spotswood Pumping Station

Learn about the site history on guided tours, or grab an iPad and investigate the Pumping Station on a digital information trail.

Capturing the Cosmos Scienceworks

Pre-book a specialist tour from Senior Curator Matthew Churchward, including a performance by members of the Orbweavers with their song “Spotswood” paying homage to the site. 12.30PM, running for 60 minutes, booking required.

Spotwood Pumping Station, Enter through Scienceworks, 2 Booker Street, Spotswood

Saturday 27 July & Sunday 28 July 10am–4.30pm

 

27. Werribee Mansion

Bring the whole family for a day out at Werribee Mansion including musical performances throughout, demonstrations in the kitchen and laundry areas and café onsite selling light food and beverages.

Werribee Mansion Werribee Park

Inside the Mansion, visitors will be able to see displays of clothing and furniture which belonged to the Chirnside family who lived there in the late 1800s. Kids can play with the toys in the special children's room inside the Mansion (suitable for children ages 3 to 10). Families can enjoy vintage games on the Great Lawn (subject to weather)

Werribee Mansion, 320 K Road, Werribee South

Saturday 27 July & Sunday 28 July 10am–4pm

Click here for my tips on how to visit Open House Melbourne with Kids

For accommodation options in Melbourne, I recommend checking out what's available on Booking.com and Airbnb

Open House Melbourne
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Joyce Watts is a former intellectual property, IT and media lawyer turned serial entrepreneur.

As well as being the founder of TOT: HOT OR NOT she helps businesses with their SEO, email marketing & social media as BrightSmart.com.au; she owns an online bike store CycleStyle.com.au and develops and produces creative experiences for families via WheelieGoodFun.com. She used to publish another popular lifestyle and food blog called MEL: HOT OR NOT The decisive guide to Melbourne.

She lives in inner-city Melbourne with her husband, two children and seven bikes.

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